It started snowing on my Animal Crossing island this weekend! I think I might get a Christmas tree this week! (On my island; we can’t have a Christmas tree IRL because we have four entire cats.) And here’s your Monday Pop Culture Fix.
+ If the Happiest Season discourse on Twitter didn’t burn you out about talking about holiday movies for the rest of the year, pals, do I have a treat for you. Elite cultural critic Caitlin Flanagan has argued in The Atlantic that the classic stop-motion Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer of the early ’60s is a trauma bomb we should never watch again and never show today’s kids! Also, she says, it’s homophobic!
We are supposed to understand that blond, dreamy-eyed Hermey wants to be a dentist, not a toy maker. (What he really wants to do, in my opinion, is join the drama club, but that might have been too much for NBC.) Foreman Elf—who, come the revolution, will not be dealt with kindly—humiliates him repeatedly. When Hermey tells him, tentatively, that he doesn’t want to make toys, Foreman Elf repeats the phrase in the “sissy” voice that has haunted gay boys down through the ages. “Shame on you!” cry the other elves, further demoralizing Hermey.
But over at The Nation, other elite critic Jeet Heer disagrees! “Don’t cancel Rudolph,” Jeet pleads!
This is a classic critical misreading whereby depicting an injustice is the same as giving sanction to it. By this logic, Moby-Dick promotes violence toward animals and Othello is a license for spouse-killing. In fact, several generation of queer children, and outsiders of all stripes, have felt an affinity for Rudolph because he learns to accept his difference and not yield to social pressure. Along the way, he forms a fellowship with other outsiders and nonconformists… On an emotional level, the story doesn’t affirm social norms but rather shows the superiority of self-acceptance and appreciation of difference.
And you thought lesbians were the only ones who could talk a holiday movie into the ground!